It was a super Saturday for high school teams competing in the San Diego Section finals as division championships were contested in cross country, girls volleyball, girls field hockey and boys water polo.
The cross country championships took place at Morley Field. Besides determining which teams would walk off the course with division titles, the meet involving all teams in the section also determined which teams would continue the season with a trip to the state championship meet in Fresno.
It was a magical day for the Mater Dei Catholic High School boys cross country team at last Saturday’s San Diego Section championship finals at Morley Field; it was an even more magical day for Montgomery senior Javier Osuna.
The Crusaders cemented a third-place finish in the Division IV race to earn a trip to Saturday’s state championship meet in Fresno. Meanwhile, Osuna, a first-year runner, defied the odds to win the Division III boys individual title.
Osuna becomes the second Aztec harrier to qualify for the state meet in as many years. He will be joined by two more individual qualifiers for Saturday’s elite race in Fresno: Otay Ranch junior Darla Osuna and Sweetwater senior Erika Gonzalez.
Otay’s Osuna finished seventh in the Division I girls field to become a two-time state meet qualifier while Gonzalez, this year’s South Bay League individual champion, finished eighth in the same race to bump Otay Ranch senior Monique Anguiano (ninth) for the last individual state qualifying berth by two seconds.
All for one
Mater Dei Catholic coach Carla Bray noted it was the first time that a team representing either MDCHS or its Marian Catholic predecessor has ever qualified for the state meet.
“We’ve gone individually in the past but this is the first team ever to go,” she said. “The kids were so excited looking at the results that they missed the awards ceremony. They were stunned.”
Mesa League individual champion Salvador Rodriguez led the way for the Crusaders with an eighth-place finish among individuals, timing 17:17 on the 5K course. Mater Dei Catholic placed all five of its scorers in the top 28 percent of the 116-deep field.
Following Rodriguez across the finish line were sophomore Joseph Chiappe (26th, 18:38), freshmen Juan Pablo Villegas (27th, 18:39) and Ezekial Campos (28th, 18:42) and sophomore Santiago Mazoy (33rd, 18:52). Freshman Luis Humberto Gomez (40th, 19:02) and junior Matthew Ireland (47th, 19:15) rounded out the team’s seven runners in the race.
Mater Dei Catholic finished with 110 points to place behind division champion Valley Center (35 points) and runner-up Bishop’s (106 points). The Crusaders out-pointed fourth place Clairemont (116 points) and fifth place Coronado (120 points) for the last state qualifying team berth in the division.
“We had been training since last December for this,” Bray said. “We used the track season to work on our speed. We knew it was going to be close.
“After Salvador finished eighth, we knew he had qualified as an individual ... but he wanted to know if the team had qualified. He kept asking ‘Did the team qualify?’”
With three freshmen, three sophomores and one junior running in Saturday’s division championship race, Mater Dei Catholic looks to be making a statement in future seasons.
Montgomery’s Osuna chose cross country as a conditioning agent for the upcoming soccer season, unaware of his true potential in the sport.
However, his fourth-place finish at the South Bay League finals gave him the confidence to put his best foot forward at Saturday’s CIF finals. “(After that) I felt I really had a chance to make it somewhere,” he said.
The Aztec harrier took the lead in the Division III race with about a half-mile remaining. “My race strategy was to keep it calm, run my race and give it my all at the end,” he said.
Osuna timed 16:30 to win by a four-second margin over Cathedral Catholic junior Raymond Boffman.
Sweetwater’s South Bay League champion boys team ended its season with a sixth place finish in the Division I race. Bryan Alvarado was the top finisher for the Red Devils but his 11th place time was four seconds off the final state-qualifying berth for individuals.
The Montgomery Aztecs’ drive to the Division IV championship game ended in a 3-0 loss to top-seeded Escondido Adventist at Rancho Bernardo High School. The Hawks (25-1) prevailed by scores of 25-11, 25-13, 25-8.
The third-seeded Aztecs finished an otherwise spectacular season at 21-7 after recording playoff victories against 14th-seeded Maranatha Christian in the first round, sixth-seeded Imperial in the quarterfinals and seventh-seeded El Capitan in the semifinals.
Escondido Adventist advances to Tuesday’s opening round of the state playoffs as the No. 7 seed in the Division IV enrollment level. Francis Parker (25-5) earned the No. 1 seed in the South bracket after posting a runner-up finish in the section’s new Open Division championship.
Montgomery advanced to Saturday’s division final after eliminating the visiting Vaqueros 25-16, 27-25, 25-20 in the division semifinals on Nov. 19.
The Aztecs swept aside Imperial in the quarterfinals on Nov. 15 by scores 25-15, 25-17, 25-21.
Montgomery, after securing the rights to this year’s Metro-South Bay League championship title with a perfect 6-0 league record, opened the division playoffs with a 3-0 sweep against Maranatha Christian. The Aztecs overpowered the Eagles by scores of 25-10, 25-10, 25-5.
Montgomery expended the least amount of energy on the court by sweeping its opening three playoff opponents in the minimum three games.
Saturday’s set of section finals featured six division championship games, with three title games played at Cathedral Catholic High School and another two at Canyon Crest Academy.
In the Open Division, top-seeded Torrey Pines (32-3) defeated third-seeded Francis Parker by scores of 28-26, 18-25, 25-15, 27-25.
In Division I, third-seeded Rancho Buena Vista (30-8) defeated fourth-seeded Poway (21-14) by scores of 29-27, 25-22, 17-25, 25-18.
In Division II, top-seeded Bishop’s (25-11) swept second-seeded Santa Fe Christian (15-17) by scores of 25-17, 25-20, 25-23.
In Division III, second-seeded Tri-City Christian (15-20) tipped top-seeded Calvin Christian (23-12) by scores of 25-15, 20-25, 19-25, 25-17, 15-11 in a marathon five-game match-up.
In Division V, top-seeded Classical Academy (24-5) bested second-seeded Guajome Park Academy (10-8) by scores of 25-14, 17-25, 26-24, 25-17.
The state playoffs culminate with championship games Dec. 7 at Santiago Canyon College in Orange.
Torrey Pines received the No. 3 seed in the Division I SoCal regionals while Westview, a semifinalist in the section Open Division playoffs, received the No. 3 seed in Division II,
Canyon Crest, the sixth-seeded team in the section Open Division playoffs, received the No. 2 seed in the Division II SoCal regionals while La Jolla Country Day, the No. 7 seed in this year’s Open Division playoffs received the No. 2 seed in the Division V SoCal regionals.
Francis Parker defeated Canyon Crest in the Open Division quarterfinals while second-seeded La Costa Canyon defeated LJCD in the same round. Francis Parker then swept LCC in upset fashion in the semifinals.
Boys water polo
The tops seeds in each of the section's three enrollment divisions emerged with championship titles in finals held at La Jolla High School. Two of the three division title games featured match-ups between the top two-seeded teams.
In Division I, Carlsbad (21-10) edged defending champion Vista (18-12) by a score of 6-5 in a battle of top seeds. The division final appearance was the 12th straight for the champion Lancers.
In Division II, Scripps Ranch (19-6-1) out-dueled third-seeded Mt. Carmel (17-13) by a score of 7-2. It was the second division title in four years for the Falcons.
In Division III, Cathedral Catholic (26-3) out-scored rival Bishop's, 8-5, in another match-up of top seeds that also served as a rematch of last year's division finals. The Dons featured an all-senior line-up, including six starters off last year's championship team. The Knights, who were making their fourth consecutive finals appearance, ended the season 21-9.
Girls field hockey
Top-seeded Scripps Ranch (21-4) won its ninth division title in school history by edging third-seeded Torrey Pines, 2-1, to claim the Division I title in a championship double-header played at Scripps Ranch High School.
Second-seeded Canyon Crest Academy (23-4) captured the night cap with a 2-1 overtime victory against top-seeded Serra (24-2).
The Division I title was sweet for Scripps, which lost 10 players to graduation from last year's championship squad. Torrey Pines, which upset second-seeded San Pasqual, 1-0, in the division semifinals on Nov. 21, finished the season 21-6.
Scripps eliminated eighth-seeded Hilltop, 4-0, in the quarterfinals on Nov. 19 and slipped past fourth-seeded RBV, 1-0, in the semifinals. Christie Hansen scored the game-winning goals for Scripps in both the semifinals and championship game.
Canyon Crest demonstrated its playoff prowess with high-scoring wins against seventh-seeded Bishop's (8-1 in the quarterfinals) and third-seeded LCC (5-2 in the semifinals). Sandy Martin scored in overtime for the Ravens while teammate Katie Carlson scored the winner in sudden-victory overtime.
CCA and Serra were meeting for the third straight year in the division championship game. The win by the Ravens ended the Conquistadors two-year championship reign.